Lepakshi – A date with history

09.12.2016:

19.00 hrs – Trivandrum : Boarded a Volvo bus to Bangalore. The bus was not that comfortable, yet manageable. And I had an assumption that they would stop somewhere in the middle for dinner, but they didn’t ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Sleep overcame my hunger and I was into my dreamworld within few moments and by the time opened my eyes, I was on the outer area of Bangalore. Though the arrival time was mentioned as 06.00 hrs in my itinerary, the bus reached Bangalore only by 08.00 hrs.

09.15 hrs – I was at my Aunt’s home in Bangalore. Quickly refreshed myself and filled my starving stomach with some yummy dosas prepared by my aunt. In the meanwhile, few of my aunt’s friends visited our home and my departure was delayed as my aunt started introducing me to everyone ๐Ÿ˜€ . Once done with the exchange of pleasantries, I took leave from them and headed to the Majestic Bus Station, from where I have to catch a bus going to my first destination – Lepakshi.

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12.30 hrs – There were no direct buses running in between Bangalore and Lepakshi, but there were a good number of buses running in between Bangalore and Bagepalli as well as Hindupur. There was this Bagepalli bus ready to leave and when I approached the driver, he asked me to get down at Bagepalli and head to Lepakshi which is 25 kms away. It took me three hours to reach Bagepalli and when I inquired about the buses to Lepakshi, the people there asked me to go to the Checkpost, from where I would be able to board some private buses or auto-rickshaws going to Lepakshi.

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03.30 hrs – After a 20 minutes journey in a tightly-packed auto-rickshaw (there were 13 members in all along with the driver in a 7 seater auto), I reached the check-post, where a private bus was waiting to leave to Hindupur via Lepakshi. The road leading to Lepakshi has an entrance with the mighty sculpture of Jatayu welcoming to this historical place. Also, there is a small Nandi statue in middle of the road representing the significance of this place. I got into the bus and took a ticket which costs Rs. 12 and it took me around 45 minutes to reach Lepakshi.

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Lepakshi, located in Anantapur district of southern Andhra Pradesh is an ideal weekend destination for people who are looking for an off-the-beaten-track day outing. To be frank, when I first heard about Lepakshi from Bilal, the first thing that came to my mind is the monolithic Nandi (the bull god) about which I read in my school textbooksย and the story which explains the name Lepakshi. And finally, am here ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

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04.30 hrs – The bus dropped me in Lepakshi and I had to walk back for 10 minutes to see the marvel for which I traveled all the way from Trivandrum. There it was, the colossally large spectacular Nandi, which is 27 feet in length and 15 feet height and is amongst the biggest monolithic Nandi in India. What makes this structure more spectacular is the smooth structure and finely-carved ornaments on it! Besides the record size, the perfectly proportioned body, finely-carved ornaments, and smooth contours add to its grandeur. I walked around the Nandi and the surrounding gardens before heading to the other famous landmark – the Veerabhadra temple.

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By the way, if you feel peckish, there is this Andhra Pradesh Tourism Resort from where one can eat and the food is good ๐Ÿ™‚

Shravanabelagola – Monk of the White Pond

11.09.2016:

Time to go back. We decided to try a few water sports at the Yaguchi water sports complex on our way back. To be frank, we doesn’t want to try any, but as we spent some good amount on the package we thought that we shouldn’t miss any part of the package ๐Ÿ˜‰ . We reached there in about 20 mins from Chikmaglur and the path leading to the water sports complex is beautiful. To be frank, we were not at all excited by the sight of the water sports complex. To begin with, it is not a complex at all, there is a ticket counter and few jet-ski scooters and banana boats and nothing more. I wouldn’t suggest this to anyone. We just went around the dam and left for Shravanabelagola.

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Shravanabelagola can be reached from Channarayapatna and it was about 15 kms from the main highway. Shravanabelagola is nestled in between two holy hills Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri and the Gomateswara temple is located on the top of the hill Vindhyagiri. Shravanabelagola, a home to 2300 years of Jain heritage is surrounded with the lush green coconut grooves and serene natural water bodies which bear the testimony to the legendary mental strength of Tyaga (renunciation) and the tender message of Ahimsa (non-violence) that embody the Jain way of life. We reached Shravanabelagola at around 4.30 pm and realized that we got a tough task ahead of us.

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The Jain Shrine is on top of a hill and one has to climb about 6oo steps to reach the temple. We deposited our footwear at the counter near the foot of the hill and started climbing on. One important thing here is that there are also human-carried-chairs in which the old people and people who can’t climb the steps can be carried to the top by paying some amount to the porters. We came across few such ๐Ÿ™‚ย It took us around 30 mins to reach the hill-top and there is a temple just after reaching the top, we reserved it towards the end and started walking towards the main temple. It took us another 15 mins to reach the main shrine.

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Gommata devam vandhami panchasayamdanuha ย deham ucchatham

devakunanthi utti kesara kusumattassa uvarammi

(Oh, Gommata Deva! Tall and proportionate in height, saffron in color and beautiful in complexion, fulfilling five sacred ceremonies, I salute you)

Finally, there stood the 17.5ย  m (57 feet) high monolithic statue of the Jain Deity Gomatheshwara (Bahubali) just infront of us when we entered the main temple. This statue is also considered to be the world’s largest monolithic statue. History tells us that the statue of Gomateshwara or Lord Bahubali was built by Chavundaraya, a general in the service of Ganga king Rachamalla. Carved by the great sculptor Aristenemi from the huge rock at the peak of Vindyagiri hill in Shravanabelagola, the statue was completed around 981 AD.

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The temple was quite small with the main statues standing in the middle and small space in front of it for the pilgrims to sit and perform puja or bhajans and there are few more small temples around it which hosts all the 24 thirthankaras of the Jain religion. We had a round around the temple and went near to the feet of the statue where stood a Pundit giving the prasad and blessings.Another small statue is placed in between the feet of the monolith and lots of pujas were being done to it.

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One important thing is that there takes place a ritual called “Mahamasthabisheka” or the Head Anointing ceremony here every 12 years as wished by Kalaladevi, mother of Chavundaraya . Large number of people come here to take part in the ritual. The next one is going to be in 2018 and will definitely try to attend this if possible ๐Ÿ™‚ We started walking back to the temple at the entrance and on the way we found few inscriptions on the stones and hill which are preserved by the ASI. We went into the main temple which is situated on a raised platform and took a round around it and one can get a good view of the town from here. We were also able to see the Chandragiri hill and a temple situated on top of it. Alas, we don’t have that much of time to visit it ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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We can get a glimpse of the Kalyani (temple pond) while descending down the steps and also the temple on the other hill. We resumed our journey back to Bangalore at 5.40 and 9.30 PM, am enjoying a good meal at my aunt’s home ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t call it an end to my trip as there are few more places around Chikmaglur which needs to be explored and also planning to attend the coming Mahamastabhisheka ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ˜‰